Dental care for you pets
Bad breath, tartar buildup, red gums. If any of these conditions apply to your pet, it’s time for a dental exam
We perform dental procedures at three of our sites on dogs, cats and increasingly on rabbits using equipment you would recognise from your own dentists’ surgery.
At our two fully equipped Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons approved veterinary hospitals – Charter Veterinary Hospital, Roundswell and at Mullacott Veterinary Hospital in Ilfracombe – we offer dental radiography.
In recent years, the importance of dental care in pets has been realised. What you can now do for your pets’ teeth at home has come on leaps and bounds. There are a number of tooth pastes and brushes available for dogs and cats and brushing your pets’ teeth should be the corner stone of dental care just as it is for us.
If you are patient and introduce teeth brushing in the correct manner, the vast majority of dogs will tolerate it and with chicken flavoured tooth paste, many pets will look forward to it! Cats can be more stubborn but a significant proportion of cats will tolerate brushing. For a small minority of pets, brushing can just be a little strange and too much to cope with! In this scenario, plaque and tartar development can be significantly reduced by using oral hygiene rinses, a specialized diet and chews can have a role to play.
If you do not pay attention to your pets’ teeth, it is a very real possibility that they will end up looking similar to the teeth shown here where there is severe tartar build up and subsequent gum disease.
As you may expect, with the teeth above, there would be quite a list of problems you may note at home. These would include bad breath, reduced appetite or slow, tentative eating. You may note your dog chewing on just one side. There may even be signs of pain with your pet rubbing their face with paws or on objects in the house. Some of the dangers of having teeth as shown are not as obvious. Infection can spread up the tooth roots and cause infections of the jaw bone and hidden abscesses. Teeth like this will also cause a steady low grade septicaemia (bacteria entering and circulating in the blood stream). These bacteria in the blood are toxic to the heart muscle; they can seed infections in the heart or the other organs such as the kidneys.
It isn’t just at home where pet dentistry has improved. At Charter Veterinary Hospital, we enjoy having a state of the art theatre. The dental theatre is fully set to perform all but the must specialist dental procedures. One piece of equipment that we have recently invested in is a digital dental x‐ray unit. This amazing bit kit allows us to take very accurate pictures of any given tooth and the surrounding structures. We use a tiny x-ray plate that can be placed into your pets’ mouth. With the click of a button an image will appear on our monitor in just a few seconds.
Much like an iceberg, a large percentage of pets teeth are out of sight. Lying below the gum line, it can be impossible to assess the tooth roots and surrounding structures without x-rays.
Examples of cases which benefit from dental radiographs would include cats suffering from FORLS (Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions) and dogs with tooth root infections or abscesses (periapical disease).
FORLs are unfortunately a very common lesion that can be found effecting domestic cats. The underlying cause for them remains unknown. FORLs cause the outer structures of a tooth to be eaten away. Once the enamel and dentine of a tooth are eroded the sensitive pulp cavity is exposed to the outer world. As you may appreciate, this is an extermely painful condition and can be likened to having an extremely sensitive tooth all the time. They commonly occur at the junction between tooth and gum are characterised by a fleshy pink appearance where you would expect to see tooth! They can occur on both clean and dirty teeth.
It is helpful to take radiographs in all these cases to assess the roots.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions frequently asked by our pet owners about dental care for their pets.
You should look out for:
- Bad breath – one of the first signs of dental disease
- A yellowish-brown crust of plaque on the teeth near the gum line
- Red and swollen gums
- Pain or bleeding when your pet eats or when the mouth or gums are touched
- Decreased appetite or difficulty eating
- Excessive drooling
When you bring your pet in for his or her yearly exam and vaccinations, we always check the health your pet’s teeth. However, if you notice any of these symptoms, please call us and schedule an appointment.
- Start by getting your dog used to having your fingers around its mouth by gently pulling gums back and massaging them
- Use a finger brush to get your dog used to having something touching its teeth and gums
- Once your dog is used to the finger brush, move on to using toothpaste and a doggy toothbrush. Only dog‐friendly toothpaste should be used as it does not contain fluoride which is dangerous to dogs
- Always use positive reinforcement and praise so your dog ends up enjoying having its teeth cleaned
If you aren’t able to brush your cat’s or your dog’s teeth every day, you should consider feeding them cat food or dog food specially formulated to provide dental benefits. We sell Hills® pet foods which includes ranges that are formulated with the following benefits:
- Unique kibble scrubs away laden plaque in the mouth to promote systemic health
- Clinically proven to reduce plaque, stain and tartar buildup
- Reduces bad breath
- Added antioxidants to control cell oxidation and promote a healthy immune system
- Awarded the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance for helping reduce both plaque and tartar accumulation
Pets are like people. Some have great teeth and some have teeth that need constant care. When you bring your pets to us for annual exams, we always check their teeth and give you our recommendations for care.
This depends on the individual animal. Some dogs and cats, particularly the smaller breeds, or there are no general rules for all.
Like humans, cats have two sets of teeth in their lives. There are 26 deciduous teeth, also known as their primary, baby, milk, or kitten teeth, and 30 permanent teeth, also known as their adult teeth.
Professional Pet Care
Pet owners trust us to look after the needs of their beloved companions. We are committed to delivering the very highest of veterinary care and affection.